New owners want Sunderland’s Dun Cow to be a ‘proper pub’

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PUNTERS can step back in time as one of the city’s oldest watering holes is brought back to life.

After 13 weeks of painstaking restoration and much anticipation, The Dun Cow last night opened its doors to the public.

Visitors to the High Street West pub, which has been celebrated nationally for its Edwardian back bar, can look forward to traditional hand-pulled cask ales and ciders from local and national brewers, as well as rotating craft keg fonts.

Experts have spent weeks restoring the wooden bar decorated with delicate art nouveau-style carving.

The pub, being run by Camerons Brewery under its successful Head of Steam brand, is the first phase of plans to create a cultural quarter centred around the Old Fire Station.

It was bought on behalf of the Sunderland MAC Trust after it went up for sale in February for £220,000.

Camerons pub estates and operations director, Joe Smith, said: “This is the only back bar of its kind left in the UK and it was important for us to restore it to the way it was.

“The specialists were meticulous in restoring and stripping back the decades of nicotine and grime.

“It was so disappointing to see the state it had got into. This is such an iconic site for Sunderland.

“We’ve had so much interest in the project.

“People have even been knocking on the door as they walk past to see how the work’s been getting on.”

Though the ground floor, which also serves bar food, is open, the second floor is still being renovated and will open as a music venue and conference facilities next month.

Mr Smith added: “We want this to be a proper pub, with proper food and proper beer. We also have 75 different bottles here, we would have had more, but we couldn’t physically fit them in.”

Built in 1901, The Dun Cow’s historic features have earned it a ranking in Camra’s list of outstanding historical pubs.

Owners the MAC Trust now face a wait to see if a funding bid placed with the Heritage Lottery Fund is successful.

The trust, set up two years ago to boost the city’s cultural activity, hopes to get funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to transform the fire station, which has stood empty for more than two decades.

The plan is to transform the former fire station into a music and arts hub, with performance spaces and an auditorium, which would act as a sister venue to The Dun Cow.